The exclusive founders-only club is not shy about naming names.
A quick scroll through its member directory shows that Joe Fernandez (Klout), Jennifer Fleiss (Rent the Runway), Adam Goldstein (Hipmunk), Jake Nickell (Threadless), Neil Patel (KISSmetrics), Shane Snow (Contently), and Slava Rubin (Indiegogo) are all part of the family.
To date, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) has received more than 14,000 applications to join the group. Yet fewer than a thousand people can proudly carry the YEC member label. [Full disclosure: I joined the YEC, as the co-founder of Blank Label, more than two years ago.]
It was never about recruiting big names or keeping numbers artificially low for vanity’s sake though.
Scott Gerber, Founder of the YEC, envisioned an organization, created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, that provided founders with the resources and tools they needed to keep growing. And that meant only accepting more candidates when the YEC staff was capable of providing more members with a wide variety of services such as virtual and in-person networking, online forums, VIP access to events, PR opportunities, exclusive discounts on business products and services, and an outlet to “give back” as a #StartupLab mentor.
The YEC in action
Much of the value from organizations such as the YEC comes from networking. If you’re looking to expand your network, someone will put you in touch with relevant contacts. For example, I met Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30Media, through YEC in New York and got access to the launch party for Under30Experiences, a new kind of travel company. If you have specific problems, the group can direct you to someone who has been-there-and-done-that and may even have a foolproof “how-to” manual for resolving the issue.
YEC also provides its members access. The organization has brought members into highly exclusive events including one at the White House. The YEC also hosts private lunches and dinners with angel investors, venture capitalists and government officials.
It all comes from the comfort and support intrinsic in knowing you are not alone. Gerber says, “you don’t have to go search for yourself, and not really know where to start. You can rely on us not just to find who would be right for you, but also make warm introductions on your behalf. So ultimately we turn you into a superconnector without having to put all of the time and effort, and frankly, trust for every person that you’re meeting because we as the intermediary have done all of the work for you by vetting the community.”
Increasing value to members
Gerber discloses that the YEC is preparing to offer more back office services. He says that the group is about to launch national healthcare, with bookkeeping and accounting will soon be available too.
“Our goal is to also help our members to save money [and] to have the most efficient services possible to support their businesses.”
If time and money are the two most limited resources founders have, the YEC looks to help save its members both.
Although the YEC does not publicly state how much annual member dues are, Gerber is confident the fees are fair, given the services the YEC offers. In my experience, I’d agree. Most small business owners could easily afford the cost, and they would be able to justify it because of the value they get in return.
“At the end of the day, we are building a brand for the long run,” says Gerber. “With one core goal always remaining constant, and that is to help entrepreneurs worldwide and empower them in a variety of different ways.”
I love the YEC, but I am biased.
There are several other organizations business people can join that offer similar value. These include Sandbox, Young Presidents’ Organization, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and Founders Card. Each has its own advantages, but I can’t speak to personal experience.
The point is: Whether you’re a founder, executive or manager, you should know that you don’t have to run your business alone. There’s a community somewhere with entrepreneurs who may happily extend a helping hand.